HC Deb 21 June 1897 vol 50 cc458-72

Considered in Committee.

*THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY, Buteshire) moved,— That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, (a) of an addition to the grant payable to School Boards in Scotland under the proviso to Section 67 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, by increasing the sum of seven shillings and sixpence therein mentioned by fourpence for every complete penny by which the School Rate therein mentioned exceeds threepence, provided that the said sum as so increased shall not exceed sixteen shillings and sixpence; (b) of an Aid Grant to Voluntary Schools in Scot-. land not exceeding three shillings per child for the whole number of children in average attendance in those schools. The right hon. Gentleman said: At the time the two Bills were passed dealing with education in England, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said provision would be made for an analogous purpose in the case of Scotland. Consequently this Resolution was the foundation for the Bill dealing with this subject which. I can explain briefly. It embraces one Bill, whereas there were two Bills in the case of England. The 67th Clause of the Education Act of 1872, which dealt with the case of what may be called necessitous Board Schools—necessitous because the rate did not produce very much—is really exactly a similar clause to that in the English Act. Accordingly this Bill proposes, in the case of Scotland, to give precisely the same advantage as in the case of England—that is to say, where the 3d. rate does not amount to a total of £20, or an average of 7s. 6d. per child, there is to be a sliding scale by the sum of 4d. for every complete ld., but not beyond the maximum of 16s. 6d. The whole matter is so fresh in the memory of the Committee in the discussion on the English Bill that I need not say any more. It is a sliding scale precisely the same as in the English Bill. I come to the second part; it is giving the same aid to Voluntary Schools in Scotland. The Voluntary Schools in Scotland do not occupy the same position as in England in regard to mangement, but it was felt that they also were entitled to be treated in an analogous way to England. The Committee will notice that the sum asked is a capitation grant of 3s. per head per child, whereas in the English Bill it was 5s. That difference is due to the fact that the Scottish child gets 2s. more than an English child. Let hon. Members dismiss from their minds what children earn under the Code—that is another question altogether. We are here dealing with the fee grant for free education. I may recall to the Committee what is the history of this question. The history is this. In 1889, when a certain amount of local taxation was intercepted and handed to local bodies in England, a corresponding sum, which was calculated at 11 to 80 was handed to Scotland, and was devoted to education. The calculation at that time was made according to the amount of money which was got. It was found that, taking the attendance as it was, and the amount of money available, it allowed a capitation grant of 12s. per head. The education at that time was not freed in all the standards. In 1891, when another provision was made, and an additional sum of £40,000, which was calculated, not as a balance, but as a fixed sum, was handed to Scotland to free the other two standards, we came to the situation that existed before there had been free education granted to England, and the provision of free education had been made upon the calculation of 10s. per head. In 1892, by the Education Local Taxation Act, there was effected a change between these two moneys. The money available used for the purpose of education under the Act of 1889 was diverted and applied to other purposes, such as to County Councils, and for purposes of general utility. After certain fluctuations as to practice, into which I need not go. Scotland now gets from the Imperial Exchequer precisely what England gets. We get a capitation grant of 10s.; but then hon. Members will remember that in the meantime there was the sum of £40,000, and certain savings out of the balances that had accumulated under the Act of 1889, so that de facto the Scottish child has always been getting 12s. I am glad to state we have persuaded my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that for the future that shall go on, although it is not in the Bill. I cannot avoid touching on that, because it is part of the whole policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman has assured us for the future this 12s. shall be paid, and over and above we shall get such sum as will enable us to go on paying the 12s. You must take it as a matter of fact that a Scottish child gets 2s. more than the children in the Voluntary Schools in England. I hope hon. Members from this will understand the Bill, which they will be better able to criticise when they see it.


said the right hon. Gentleman had omitted one fact of considerable interest, the amount of money to the Board and Voluntary Schools.


said the total estimated grant under the new Necessitous Board Schools schemes would be £42,000. The present grant was about £13,000, so there would be an increase of over £28,000. The 3s. grant to the Voluntary Schools would be a little over £12,000. The cost of keeping up the 12s. capitation grant would come to about £26,000.


said, of course, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, it was very difficult for Members to judge of the scheme until they could see the Bill in print, and with all the right hon. Gentleman's usual clearness, and the knowledge Members should have of what took place four or five years ago, it was a little difficult to follow the statement. Therefore he wished to reserve entirely the expression of his opinion on the merits of the scheme. But of one thing there could be no doubt, the amount was not so large as the Scottish people expected to receive on this occasion. ["Hear!"] It might be true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the ingenuity of those who would assist him at the Treasury, would make out that Scotland was receiving more than she ought to receive, but Scotchmen started with a view of the question front the other side. Scotland had always been ahead of England in this matter of education, spending more money proport Tonally on, and requiring more money for, education. They Wished to avoid in Scotland playing down, so to speak to the English level, and he hoped above all that in any calculations made it had not been put against their side of the account that Scottish children hid earned more under similar conditions than English children had. He had seen the question sometimes treated in this manner; but their view of the matter was that if their children did earn more under similar conditions than English children, it was because of greater zeal in learning and greater attention in teaching.


said they did earn more, but the fact did not enter into the figures he had given.


was glad to hear that, but it did sometimes figure in argument, and was used to add to the moral weight of objections to Scotland's claim. As he had said, at this stage of the proceedings they could do very little. They had received the explanation, which would be considered by Scottish representatives and all interested in the matter in Scotland, and when they came to see the Bill in print they would be better able to judge how far the scheme would be beneficial and adequate for its purpose. There had been expectations in Scotland that the grant for education would he larger on this occasion. No one could say of the proposal that it was Jubilee gift to the cause of Scottish education. They would have been glad to have seen a much larger sum, and in saying that he believed he could include Scottish opinion without reference to party politics. Education was the one subject upon which the Scottish people were entirely united and had been for generations or even centuries, and from which politics were excluded. There was rivalry among all sections in favour of higher education for the youth of Scotland, and it was not simply because the proposal came front Her Majesty's Government that he gave indication of the objection (hat would arise. But they would see what the scheme was when they Intl the Bill in print, and lie now contented himself with expressing the dissatisfaction he was sure would be felt in Scotland.

SIR C. CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

said there was some difficulty in understanding what the entire sum amounted to.


repeated the figures, £66,450.


said it was desirable there should be some further explanation of the differential treatment of denominational schools. The right hon. Gentleman had explained the reasons why they were not to get the 5s. grant given in England; but he doubted very much whether those reasons would be considered adequate. He was against the principle of the endowment of denominational schools; but if the grant was to be made for dealing with this matter, which was not so much a burning question as it was in England, then it would be much more statesmanlike to deal with it in such a manner as would satisfy those who were in favour of denominational education and not in a less generous manner than it had been dealt with in England. No doubt very considerable attention would be directed to that part of the proposition, and it appeared to him that £66,000 was an amount very considerably below what Scotland would be entitled to on the basis of an equivalent grant.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

was disappointed with the statement of the Lord Advocate, and thought the right hon. Gentleman had scarcely been accurate as to the facts. So far as the question of equivalency was concerned, only one method of computation had been followed until the present Government came into power, and made a change. In every one of the Acts passed, in every one of the grants given from the time they had assisted education until the present Government came into power Scotland always got 11–80ths of the English grant, and there had been no fluctuation at all; every grant was based on the original Act of 11–80ths; but if now a change was to be made by the present Government without any Act of Parliament, but as a matter of administration, then Scotland should get back all she had lost in the past by the system hitherto followed. Scotland had always received 11–80ths, because it was very much less than 10s. a head would have been; but as a result of English Education. Votes growing so fast, 11–80ths was more than 10s. per child Scotland would be, and now the Government proposed to give 10s. a head because the amount would be about £5,000 less than under the 11–80ths. If the system must be so charged, then Scotland should receive some £30,000 or £40,000 of which she had been robbed under the old Acts. There had been one system under three Governments, and now when the result would be bad for Scotland, a change was proposed, and in the usual way the Treasury was trying to "chisel" Scotland. The Voluntary Schools so called in Scotland, were, outside the Catholic Schools, a miserably small minority. A splendid thing was done for education when the Church of Scotland and the Free Church handed over their schools to the School Boards. There were possibly some 80 or 90 Episcopal schools and some 250 Catholic schools, the Board Schools numbering between 2,000 and 3,000. The position was wholly different to that in England, and yet it was proposed to apply the same principle. Of course it was usual for the predominant partner to rob its weaker Scotch partner. By an equivalent grant Scotland would receive much more than under the grant to Voluntary Schools. He did not know to what extent the Necessitous School Boards' Bill would affect Scotland. Probably outside the unfortunate necessitous districts Scotland would not be affected at all. The explanation of the Lord Advocate was very unsatisfactory. The Treasury was again trying to rob Scotland by the change from the 11–80ths. When 10s. a head was given in England, Scotch Members contended for the same for Scotland; but in 1888–9 the Treasury refused this, because the amount would have been a few thousands more, and began the system of equivalent grants; but now when that system was to the advantage of Scotland, the Treasury proposed to change it. On the Second Reading of the Bill, discussion would expose the unfairness of the proposal.


desired a few words of explanation in reply to the accusation that the Treasury was proposing to rob Scotland. The system of equivalent grants for free education had been found impracticable from the beginning. Scotch Members objected to it, and said it would be better to have the same grant as in England, 10s. per child. As years went on it was found almost impossible to calculate what the fee grant would be in Scotland, for the system led to the absurd result that the amount Scotland received for free education was based not on Scotch necessities, not on the number of children in schools in Scotland, but on the number of children in English schools, and as it was impossible to know how many children had attended schools in England until after the close of the year, so nobody could tell the amount to which Scotland would be entitled until it was too late to pay. When the Government came into office he looked carefully into the matter, consulted with his colleagues, took the advice of the Law Officers, and came to the conclusion to adopt the principle of giving to Scotland and England the same grant of 10s. per child. So that in the current year, and in future, what Scotland would receive for the fee grant would be what her children earned, and nothing would depend upon England. The hon. Member for Caithness said that in doing this they were cheating Scotland out of what she was entitled to. They had done nothing of the kind. They had undertaken to do for Scotland what they had dime for Ireland—namely, to hand over to Scotch education as much as Scotland would have received if 10s. per child had been the basis adopted since the Free Education Act; and further, having adopted the basis of the necessary expenditure for education in Scotland rather than that of an equivalent grant with regard to Free Education, they had also adopted it in regard to this Bill. As his right hon. Friend had explained, they had adopted the identical clause with regard to necessitous Board Schools which had been passed for England, and they had adopted the clause with regard to Voluntary Schools with the exception that they had given 3s. per head instead of 5s. for the reason which the Lord Advocate had explained.


There are practically no Voluntary Schools in Scotland.


said that might be so, but why were they required to do more for Scotland than had been done for England? It was not a question of equivalent grants at all. It was a question of dealing with a system of education and paying what was necessary for the education of the children. That was the system which had been adopted with regard to free education, and it was the only system, he ventured to say, on which it would be found practically possible to work. If hon. Members for Scotland thought it was not well that this money should be devoted to this purpose, that was another matter altogether on which it was not his business to dwell; but he thought his right hon. Friend would be perfectly able to defend his Bill. As far its regarded the amount of the grant, he ventured to contend that the history of the Free Education Act had shown that the basis of equivalent grants, as applied to education, was practically and absolutely impossible—["hear hear!"] —and that the oily way in winch the matter could properly be dealt with was the basis which they had adopted in this Bill of enacting for Scotland, if it were right to enact for Scotland, what had been enacted for England and paying the cost of it.

MR. J. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

said he would not follow the Chancellor of the Exchequer into the very interesting history of the fee grant and the way in winch the system of equivalent grants had been proved to be misapplicable to it. If he did, he should probably be obliged to admit with him that there was grave doubt as to the way in which it worked; but he did not think that that really met at all the objection entertained to the proposal of the Government. What were the facts of the case? The proposal of the Government was to apply what was called an identic method to Scotland and England—that was to say, to give them the same grant under similar terms which was given to necessitous Beard Schools in England under the Act or this Session, and similarly to give a grant to Voluntary Schools in England. Under this proposal, as he understood from the Lord Advocate, Scotland would receive £40,000 more than she received now. If she received the money under the principle of the equivalent grant, she would have received £110,000. ["Hear, hear"] The total sum which he believed was payable under the two English Acts of this Session was, in the case of one, a little more than £600,000, and in the case of the other, about £200,000 a year. That was a little more than £800,000. On the principle of 80 to 11, that, would give to Scotland £110,000. It would at once strike the Committee that there must be some reason for this curious disparity in the operation of the identical principle. There must be some curious cause at work introducing a difference between education in England and in Scotland to account for the great differences between £110,000 and £40,000. There was such a phenomenon. It was this, that, more than half the children in English elementary schools were educated in Voluntary Schools, and that a mere handful of the children in Scotch elementary schools were educated in Voluntary Schools. The enormous mass of Scotch children were educated in Board Schools, and therefore they had the result that a grant which would have been £110,000 if the countries had been alike, was scaled down to a grant of £40,000, because the countries were different. That was what, to their mind, appeared to produce a practical injustice. ["Hear hear!"] It was a practical injustice owing to the fact that Scotland preferred the Board School system and England so far contented herself with what was mainly a voluntary system. The result of the difference was that the Scotch taxpayer contributed to the education of England a proportion of £800,000, and the English taxpayer contributed to the education of Scotland only £40,000. It was clear, therefore, that that inflicted upon the taxpayers of Scotland a very severe financial injustice. The identity of treatment which the Lord Advocate spoke of, although it promised much to the eye and ear, fulfilled nothing in reality. It was in point of fact treatment which was identic only in name, because the circumstances of the two countries were so different that apparent equality produced substantial injustice. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

said he was afraid this proposal would be regarded in Scotland as extremely unsatisfactory. For his part he had no love whatever for the equivalent grant, but they must have some sort of justice in the amount of the grant, even though the kind of machinery which was tried in the first place had turned out to be quite unsatisfactory. There was a great deficiency in what, he thought, the people of Scotland might expect to receive in correspondence with what had been given to English education. There had already been pointed out the very great difference in position of the Voluntary Schools in Scotland and in England, and that the grant to Voluntary Schools in Scotland would be almost entirely a sectional grant. Except perhaps in the case of the Roman Catholic, the Voluntary Schools in Scotland were not, as in England, regarded as an institution to which the people were greatly attached, and he though the expenditure upon them would be by no means regarded in Scotland as being a satisfactory way of disposing of a portion of their share of the equivalent grant. There were other forms of education for which they very greatly wanted money, even if they got all their 12s. They had been ahead of England in the expenditure of money upon education, and they very badly wanted money in respect of higher education, and in respect of secondary and technical education. They ought to receive in correspondence with the grant to England a larger amount of money, which could and would be spent with very great advantage on secondary and technical education.

MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

said there would be a general feeling of dissatisfaction in Scotland with regard to the amount. There could be no question whatever that in this matter Scotland was entitled to 11–80ths of the English share of the grant, which would have given them a sum of £100,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to the 10s. grant per head which was given in 1892. At that time he strongly contended that Scotland ought to get 10s. per head the same as in England, which would have given them £4,000 or £5,000 a year more. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer objected and said the proper principle was the equivalent grant, which gave them £4,000 or £5,000 less. Then they got free Education in England which swelled up the attendance so considerably that the balance was changed, and the result would have been that Scotland, paid on the equivalent grant principle, would have got £4,000 or £5,000 more. But when that principle turned in favour of Scotland the Treasury said they would give 10s. per head the same as they gave in England. He had no doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be just enough to give Scotland what was her due notwithstanding the change of principle, but he was pointing out what was the effect of the change of principle. With regard to the Voluntary Schools in Scotland, he would point out that they got the 12s. grant at this moment, but they were not getting more than 10s. per head out of the Imperial Exchequer, the other 2s. coming out of Scotch money pure and simple. He thought a word must be said in favour of these Voluntary Schools in Scotland. With regard to the Voluntary Schools, a word must be said in their favour. The circumstances under which they had to compete in Scotland were essentially different from the circumstances in England. For instance, the compulsory standard was the fifth all over Scotland. Then the age at which children must attend school was 14 in Scotland as against 13 in England. Was it not obvious, therefore, that Voluntary Schools in Scotland had more children to educate than similar schools in England? Why in England one-fourth of the school children — 1,300,000 — were infants; and then they had but a small proportion of older children. But in Scotland the children had to remain until they were 14 or had passed the fifth standard; so that the average number of older boys and girls in Scotch Voluntary Schools was much larger, and the expense was much greater per head. Both in the Board Schools and in the Voluntary Schools, the cost was higher than in England, owing to the higher age and the higher standard, and the necessity for keeping up a superior staff. Then mark this difference. In England the education given was elementary—the word "elementary" was in their Act; but in Scotland it was not merely elementary education, it was an education that fitted for the University. That being so, the English schools being purely elementary and the Scotch giving secondary education in every parish school, the Voluntary Schools had to compete with them, and how could they compete if they were not to be paid at least the same rate per scholar as in England, where the schools were doing purely elementary work? They ought, at least, to get the 5s. per head given in England, because relatively the present 12s. which cattle to them was not so much as the 10s. presented to the elementary schools in England. The sum of money they ought to get would be altogether about £110,000, that would be the sum Scotland ought to get as a fair equivalent for what was given to England out of the Imperial purse.. For, after all, what were they doing? They were taking money out of the Imperial purse, to which Scotland contributed as well as England. It was admitted that Scotland contributed 11–80ths to the Imperial purse; and if they were going to give a certain dole to England on the one side, Scotland must get an equivalent dole on the other. And then the money should be applied in the way most suited to Scotland's educational interests, having regard to her special circumstances. For these reasons he certainly complained that the money given to Scotland, the total sum, was grossly inadequate; and then, as, regarded the Voluntary Schools, he said that under the peculiar circumstances under which the Voluntary Schools were placed, they ought to get the 5s. a head as in England. As to other points in the Bill, he, of course, reserved his criticism until it was printed. All he dealt with at present was the financial question, the fact that they were only getting about £66,000, according to the official statement, but according to their own statement only £40,000; and that, even if they did get £66,000, it was a long way short of the £110,000 which was Scotland's equivalent.


said the principle of a proportional equivalent grant had really nothing to do with the question of education. He could not allow the figures of the hon. Member for Aberdeen to pass unchallenged, because if they took his point of view of an equivalent grant they would have to take the same view of the whole situation. The hon. Member for Aberdeen drew this fancy picture. He said the cost to the Imperial taxpayer under the English Bill was so much, and the equivalent under a Scotch Bill ought to be £110,000, but they were being given only £40,000. The hon. Member had exaggerated, because if they took the 11–80ths of the cost under the English Bill it would be £80,000, not £110,000. [Mr. BRYCE: "Both Bills!"] Then he said, "You are oily giving us £40,000." To that must be added £26,000, which was given—outside the Bill, no doubt, but it was given all the same—to keep up the grant to 12s. The hon. Member who had just spoken did not seem to know that the money out of which that 2s. was paid was now exhausted, and accordingly, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer did nothing for them, they would not be able in future to pay the Scotch schools more than the 10s. per child which they now got directly, as in England. The additional 2s. had been paid in the past out of savings on the probable grant. But these savings were now eaten up, so that unless they got this £20,000 in the future from the Chancellor of the Exchequer they could not make up the grant. But there was also this view of the case. If they complained from the point of view of the Scotch taxpayer, that so much was being contributed out of the Imperial purse and the Scotch equivalent of that was £100,000, then they must take a. view of the whole situation—they must look at the whole of the grant. They would find that the Scotch child earned 2s. 7d. more than the English. He had not worked out the capital SUM that represented, but it was enough to show that the picture drawn by the hon. Member for Aberdeen was not a true picture of the whole situation.


said the reason why the Scotch child earned more than the English child was because he was an older child, and there were more in the upper standards. He wondered whether the Lord Advocate would work out this problem—it was worth working out; namely, what would be the effect of applying to Scotland the English mode of distributing the grant? Take the Scotch mode and apply it to England, and find out what the effect of that would be? He thought they would find they would come off the worse. Let him give one illustration. They had two scales—a junior and a senior. Well, in the case of England only one-quarter of the children were paid for on the lower scale, and the other three-quarters, were paid for on the higher. In the case of Scotland, on the other hand, only one-third of the children were paid for on the higher scale against three-quarters in England. It was all very well to say that the Scotch child earned 2s. 7d. more than the English? But at what sacrifices? The child had to attend school until 14 years of age, and the parent was deprived of his labour until that age. He was sure that if England would rise to the occasion and keep her children at school longer, and let them earn higher grants, there was not a single Scotchman who would object to England getting more money if she made the same sacrifices Scotland was already making. The Scotch ratepayers were paying more money than the English per head. The figures were £2 5s. per head in the case of English Board Schools, omitting the Metropolis; and £2 9s. per head in Scotch. So that the Scotch ratepayer was paying 4s. more per head, even if the children did earn 2s. 7d. more. Both ratepayers and parents in Scotland were thus making sacrifices. Let them apply the English scale to Scotland, and they would willingly accept it; for he was quite sure they would make a great deal more money under it than they did under the Scotch scale.

MR. SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)

said he was sorry that nothing was to be done for a form of technical education to which he attached great importance, -namely, agricultural research. Ha had thought that the Scotch Office Was alive to the great desire there was in Scotland, especially in some of the counties, that there should be a better system of agricultural research. There had been a certain, amount, of correspondence. He himself had had the privilege of seeing the Secretary for Scotland once or twice on the subject, and lie certainly thought that there was, an idea of devoting a certain sum of money—£6,000 or £7,000 a year to that purpose. Such an expenditure would be most remunerative, it would return itself a hundredfold to the Scotch farmer mid landowner, and lie did hope, therefore, that at the eleventh hour there might be a possibility of applying a certain sum to the purpose he had mentioned.

Resolution to be reported upon Thursday.